Wednesday, September 22, 2010

RoboCopy vs. SyncToy

While this is not really an in depth comparison, this is more of a quick observation…  If you are looking for a backup solution, please, PLEASE pick one that can actually call itself a backup solution.  Here’s where SyncToy falls short:
  1. Copy files in Restartable mode ~ This allows for an intermittent network connection and will pick up where the copy operation left off.  This is great for those fiesty T1’s that love to chew up more time than they are worth.
  2. Copy Access Rights ~ So if you have intricate permissions set on your files (Who doesn’t ;-P), then you will miss out on all of this glory.
  3. Monitor Source ~ WOW… What a capability.  Robocopy can monitor your files and when there are changes, it’ll automatically copy them.
  4. Bandwidth Throttling ~ While this isn’t a complete solution, it still can free up some bits for other stuff that’s traveling down that slow T1.
  5. Multi-Threaded ~ Why am I still going?  This allows for multiple files to be handled at once.  Now you don’t have to wait on that 6 GB .pst to copy over before your 32 KB files are handled.
  6. Attribute Handling ~ This is not the most impressive, but it’s actually my favorite.  If you know anything about backups, then you know setting the Archive attribute on files can save precious time and space on your backup routine.
  7. Can be easily automated ~ Now before you ping my comment section, I’m very aware that you can schedule a task to run SyncToy.  My main problem with that is I have to setup my pairs via GUI only.  The help files say otherwise, but I’m not convinced.  I’ve spent at least 30 mins trying to prove myself wrong…  This doesn’t work: SyncToy -d(left=e:\,right=c:\Pictures, name=MyPictures,operation=contribute) and this is in the help file!!!
What is SyncToy good for?
Practical uses?  Set it up for your grandma and wait for her to call you when she wants to do a simple backup.  But you then also have to consider what is being backed up.  There are more caveats that you may not know about.  Here’s an excerpt from SyncToy’s Forum:
Q. I have noticed that sometimes SyncToy does not pick up changes to my photos which I had edited using "some popular" photo editing and management software?
A. Several popular photo-editing suites do NOT modify the file time or file size when making certain changes to pictures such as when the user adds or edits tags, description, title, etc on the picture. This is especially true of file formats such as JPEG which use the EXIF header structure. Because of this SyncToy has no way of knowing that the file was modified by the user - if either the last updated timestamp on the file changes or the file size changes, SyncToy will pick up that change and synchronize it over to the other side - otherwise it looks like the same file as before to SyncToy. We're considering improving this behavior in later versions of the Microsoft Sync Framework which is the synchronization technology underneath SyncToy.  For now, the only options users have when synchronizing pictures that may exhibit this behavior is to turn on the Check File Contents option on their folder pair - however, it will make the sync operation quite slow because for this SyncToy has to do a complete scan of every file on each side to compute a signature for the file contents.
RoboCopy is your friend…
This is really a short list that could go on forever.  It may sound a bit biased, but based on what I’ve seen, SyncToy should never be used as for backup.  It may seem like such an easy piece of software to work with, in the end do not be fooled. 
What do you think?
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Vibs said...

Thanks a lot for solving my dilemma. I'll be using only robocopy from now on !

Zu Download said...

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